Lord Franklin

Lord Franklin was a famous nineteenth century British sea captain and explorer. His final expedition, undertaken in his sixties, aimed to find the (at the time) mythical Northwest sea Passage. The expedition set off for the artic in 1846 amid much press hulabaloo. At the time, it was quite usual for such expeditions to be out of contact for more than a year, so at first nobody much worried about Franklin. Then, as the months wore on, it became clear that the expedition had met with ill-luck. The fate of Franklin was a public mystery ("The fate of Franklin, no man may know"). Franklin's wife ultimately commissioned a second expedition to search for her husband, even though by the time it left, it was all but certain that Franklin himself had perished. It is this story that the song tells, apparently from the point of view of Lady Franklin. Indeed, according to some sources, she was the song's author. In fact, the entire crew perished from starvation, hypothermia, tuberculosis, lead poisoning, scurvy and exposure before and after Franklin died and the expedition's icebound ships were abandoned in desperation.

Lord Franklin (often known as Lady Franklin's Lament)

We were homeward bound one night on the deep
Swinging in my hammock I fell asleep
I dreamed a dream and I thought it true
Concerning Franklin and his gallant crew

With 100 seamen he sailed away
To the frozen ocean in the month of May
To seek a passage around the pole
Where we poor seamen do sometimes roll

Through cruel misfortune they vainly strove
Their ships on mountains of ice was drove
Where the Eskimo with his skin canoe
Was the only one that could ever come through

In Baffin's Bay where the whale fish blow
The fate of Franklin no man may know
The fate of Franklin no tongue can tell
Lord Franklin among his seamen do dwell

And now my burden it gives me pain
For my long lost Franklin I would cross the main
Ten thousand pounds I would freely give
To know that on earth my Franklin do live